How it works
If you’ve ever worked in sales (or know someone that does), then the idea of commission will be familiar to you. I.e you buying something will earn the salesperson a percentage or a fixed amount for getting you to sign on the dotted line.
Shopping online is no different, for almost all websites there’s a bit of money up for grabs to whoever refers you to buy something from a site. Now this money usually goes to bloggers, voucher code or magazine websites who use tracking links, or it goes unclaimed if you go directly to the website from Google or a newsletter.
What cashback websites do is that they give that money back to you, instead of whoever refers you. The money will go to whoever’s link you clicked through LAST, so make sure if you’re using a cashback site, that the cashback link is the last one you click before paying.
You don’t get the money instantly, unfortunately. It has to be confirmed that you didn’t cancel your order or send it back, and then the money has to be sent from the retailer to the cashback site, and to you. It’s usually around a month between buying something and receiving the money back in your account.
TopCashback or Quidco
The two biggest cashback sites in the UK are TopCashback and Quidco, there are others out there, but these two are the most established and popular. We’ve been using these sites for seven years and have earned back just over £400 between both websites.
We recommend you sign up to both as they each offer different exclusives, and some shops might ONLY offer cashback on one site, or be available on both, but offer a higher rate on one than another.
What can I get cashback on?
Almost all of the UK’s big beauty websites offer cashback, from Boots to Space NK. The list of retailers offering cashback changes all the time, so always check before you shop.
As a general rule, smaller, more independent shops are less likely to give you cashback (although Etsy is on both sites, if you want to go really indie), and Amazon only offers cashback on rare occasions.
How much will I earn?
Usually between 1% and 10% per transaction.
Can I use codes as well?
The official line on this is no – but most of our cashback seems to track whether or not we use a discount code. Occasionally cashback sites will list codes on the retailer’s page that will definitely work with cashback, so look there too!
In store cashback
Yes, you can get cashback online, but you can also get it when you shop in store. Using Quidco High Street or TopCashback OnCard you can automatically get a bit of money back when you buy something on a credit or debit card you’ve registered with Quidco or TopCashback.
Just add any of the cards you use onto both programmes, then go through and activate the offers for any of the shops you’re likely to visit. There are much fewer shops offering in store cashback than online, but beauty-wise there’s Debenhams and The Body Shop at the moment (liable to change).
The simplest way to get your money back is as cash through PayPal or BACS bank transfer, but you can get up to a 5% bonus if you cash it out as a voucher.
If you want to use your cashback to spend on more beauty you get 5% extra on cash outs as M&S, Love2Shop (Boots), Debenhams or Amazon vouchers at TopCashback or 1% extra as an Amazon voucher on Quidco.
Want to read more? Have a look at our ultimate guide to beauty loyalty cards.
Hey! I’m Bronni and I’m a financial journalist and deals hunter in my mid 20s. I’m really into cats, pop music, the internet and barely substantiated celebrity gossip.